Lobbying Affiliate: MML&K Government Solutions

Is My Spouse Automatically Entitled To My Real Property Upon My Death?, Business First, Legal Forum, March 8, 2013

Business First, Legal Forum, March 8, 2013

by Christopher A. Richardson

Kentucky is one of the few remaining states to recognize dower and curtesy. Dower arose in common law as a way to provide security to a married woman who could not legally own property, but may outlive her husband. Likewise, curtesy is a surviving husband's interest in his late wife's estate. For these property rights to arise a couple must be married and the owner spouse must pre-decease the non-owner spouse.

KRS 392.020 establishes dower and curtesy as statutory rights; KRS 392.080 allows a surviving spouse to elect against the decedent spouse's will and entitles them to a one-third interest in the real property of the decedent spouse. This creates potential estate planning problems, as the pre-death intent of a spouse can be superseded by statute, and left to the whim of the surviving spouse.

If you do not want your property to pass to a spouse take extra steps to make your intentions clear. Consider placing the property into a trust or including it in an ante-nuptial agreement.

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